As a child, Shane Bargy was a member of the organization he now leads as executive director.
Growing up, he wasn’t the most active member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady, but he’s devoted much of his adult life to the organization.
The Webster Street club, which opened in 1974, was his starting point with the organization.
“That was my club as a kid,” he said. “I grew up on Crane Street, graduated from Mont Pleasant High School when it was a high school, right next door here.”
Bargy graduated from The College of Saint Rose with a degree in communications and a plan to be a journalist, but has worked mostly in youth development in the 30 years since:
He started as a part-time education aide for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Albany, then was full-time program director at the club in Rotterdam, unit director of the Mont Pleasant club, youth bureau director for Schenectady County for five years, and executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Atlantic City for two years.
“I loved it there,” Bargy said. “I’m not a gambler and I’m not an ocean person, I just loved it there, I don’t know what it was.”
In 2012, the executive director job in Schenectady opened up. Bargy applied, won the post and moved home.
“I jumped in not knowing I was going to do it forever,” Bargy recalled of his first career move. It was a choice between relocating to another market for a low-paying newspaper position or staying local for the even lower-paying part-time job with the Boys & Girls Clubs.
Like many people who work in nonprofits, Bargy considered things other than salary. The organization had made a difference for his family as he was growing up.
“Me and my friends, we were all broke because we lived in a poor community. But we had what we needed and we had each other,” he said.
“It was very important to my family. I was occasional at the club, my sisters were everyday. But for my mother, a single mom working a lot of hours, it was really good for her to know that her children were in a place that would care for them.”
He added: “The facility is important but the adults you connect with, that’s the secret sauce. They’re really your second family.”
Bargy, 52, lives in Delanson now and has two children and two stepchildren.
The younger children, ages 8 and 9, have participated in soccer and swimming programs at the club in Rotterdam.